US English-language viewers drop 87 pct for World Cup draw

NEW YORK (AP) The U.S. English-language television audience plummeted for the World Cup draw without the presence of the Americans in the 32-nation field.

Draw coverage Friday on FS1 averaged 65,000 viewers from 10-11:05 a.m. EST, down 87 percent from a record average of 489,000 for the 2014 draw televised by ESPN2 from 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. EST on Dec. 6, 2013.

U.S. English-language viewers for the draw four years ago topped the previous high of 364,000 on Dec. 19, 1993, for the 1994 World Cup, the first in the United States.

The Americans’ streak of seven World Cup appearances ended when the U.S. was eliminated with a 2-1 loss in October at Trinidad and Tobago.

Next year’s World Cup final appears headed for a television conflict. The July 15 game in Moscow is scheduled for be televised by Fox starting at 6 p.m. local time, which is 11 a.m. EDT. Earlier this week, the All-England Club said the men’s singles final of Wimbledon on the same day will keep its traditional start time of 2 p.m. in London, which is 9 a.m. EDT. The tennis will be broadcast in the U.S. by ESPN.

”We face competition every day, and it’s not uncommon for even a top-shelf event to sometimes face a circumstance like this,” Burke Magnus, ESPN’s executive vice president of programming and scheduling, said in a statement.